7 Healthcast: Catching cavities
And those germs aren't necessarily the ones that cause your child to get sick- they could cause tooth decay.
That's right- new research shows that cavities are contagious.
Researchers now know that cavity causing bacteria- the bugs that turn sugar into enamel-eating acid- don't originate in the mouth. They are transferred from one person to another.
"We understand how children get the bacteria, they get them from the primary caretaker, most of the time the mom," said pediatric dentist Dr. William Vann.
All children are susceptible, but research shows there is a window, which is especially critical in little ones, from six to thirty-six months of age. So what can you do?
"You hear stories about, well, you shouldn't share utensils, you shouldn't taste your baby's food, and those things are true, but the reality is you can't break the chain of transmission," Dr. Vann said.
But parents and caregivers can help reduce the risk - by taking care of their own mouth, which keeps the number of decay causing germs low so that fewer are passed on.
"As soon as the teeth come in the bacteria are going to find those teeth," Dr. Vann said.
But that doesn't mean cavities are inevitable. Experts say good oral hygiene, healthy eating habits, and regular trips to the dentist can keep the bad bugs at bay.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends youngsters have their first dental check-up by the time they turn a year old.(Copyright 2008 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)